Honey vs. sugar: Is honey really better for you?

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 16:54:00-04

We all love sugar, but is honey a healthier option?

Both honey and sugar have pros and cons. They’re both carbohydrates containing glucose and fructose, with sugar having more than honey.

Sugar has a long shelf life, is low in cost and many of us enjoy its taste. But sugar is processed a lot more than honey. 

Since honey is produced by honeybees, it contains pollen and trace minerals like magnesium and potassium.  But honey can also raise your blood glucose levels similar to sugar, although it’s not as high as sugar on the glycemic index.

Sugar is lower in calories than honey.  But since honey is sweeter, you can use less. 

Overindulging in either of these sweeteners can lead to extra weight and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

High sugar intake is also linked to tooth cavities, changes in gut bacteria and problems with liver function that can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity.

Whether you choose honey or sugar, it’s important to use in moderation.

  • If using honey, chose dark raw honey as they have more nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes.
  • Don’t give honey to babies under 12-months-old. Honey contains bacterial spores that can cause a rare but potentially life-threatening disease called infant botulism.
  • When using sugar or honey, use a half spoon in drinks and cereals, instead of a full spoon. Your taste buds will adjust over time and your waistline will thank you.
  • Try adding sweet spices like ginger and cinnamon, or extracts like almond or vanilla to smoothies and baked goods. You’ll cut down the sugar without compromising taste.

Honey may help with wound healing and burns when applied topically in a gel form or as a salve. 

It’s been found to help with a scalp condition called seborrheic dermatitis. 

It may also relieve coughing and provide allergy relief,  although studies have not shown consistent results.